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FH82 - Physical Geography

Physical Geography

BSc Honours

  • UCAS code: FH82
  • Full time
  • 3 years
  • Next start date: September 2020
Year :

Study Physical Geography at Newcastle and develop the scientific knowledge, skills and understanding for a career addressing the global challenges facing our natural environments.

Fees (per year)

  • Home: £9250
  • International: £19200

Entry requirements

  • A Level: ABB
  • IB: 32 points

UCAS Institution name and code:

  • NEWC / N21
Work placement opportunity Study abroad opportunity

Course overview

This degree gives you the opportunity to focus on physical geography from the very start. You'll develop a deep understanding of the processes that shape our planet and how they impact on human lives and communities. Alongside this, you'll develop advanced laboratory and GIS skills.

You'll learn from internationally recognised experts in a range of fields, in the UK and internationally. Valuable field visits will take you to explore our geographically rich region but also to places as far away as Morocco, Iceland and New Zealand.

Having already performed very well in A level Geography, you'll continue to build a firm foundation of knowledge and skills in Stage 1, enabling you to thrive in the final stages. The turning point of the degree is a residential field course module in Stage 2.

Please rest assured we make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

See our terms and conditions for more information

View our Frequently Asked Questions

Your course during COVID-19

Whilst things will not be the same when you join us in September, this course page is intended to give you insight into what to expect from your course and your learning experience for the duration of your degree.

We have updated all course information where there are specific changes in the first semester.


Most of our student services are now available online. As COVID-19 restrictions lift, we'll be opening up our on-campus facilities as soon as it is safe to do so, so that you can get the best out of your studies.

Your learning experience

Your teaching will be a mixture of online and in-person on-campus teaching. In semester one, as a result of physical distancing requirements, all lecture materials will be delivered online along with many tutorials, workshops and labs.

Our aim, if Government guidance allows us, is to deliver up to three hours of labs, seminars and tutorial teaching in-person on campus where this is possible and safe to do so. We'll review this regularly and plan to return to full in-person, on-campus teaching in semester two if restrictions allow.


In semester one, we will not be running face-to-face, on-campus examinations. We will instead use different approaches to assessment. These will test and support your learning.

Field trips

We will be running some but not all of our planned field trips. Some of those that do run, will be run virtually. For those that do not run, we will be offering alternative learning activities. These learning activities will give you the opportunity to achieve the same learning.

Terms and conditions and student complaints

The University has terms and conditions which create a positive environment for learning and academic achievement.

Further information

Our COVID-19 Study page gives more information about your Newcastle University 2020 study experience.

Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitments outlined are subject to the guidelines that may be in place at the time.

Quality and ranking

  • top 100 – Geography category – QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020
  • top 175 – Social Sciences category – Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2020
  • 10th in the UK for research – Research Excellence Framework 2014

Modules and learning


The information below is intended to provide an example of what you will study.

Most degrees are divided into stages. Each stage lasts for one academic year, and you'll complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each stage. 

Our teaching is informed by research. Course content may change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Optional module availability
Student demand for optional modules may affect availability.

Full details of the modules on offer will be published through the Programme Regulations and Specifications ahead of each academic year. This usually happens in May.

To find out more please see our terms and conditions.

You'll explore global environmental issues alongside physical geography concepts and techniques. Topics include glacial processes volcanic and tectonic activity, flooding and fluvial processes, biogeography, geohazards, and coastal processes.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Geographic Information Systems 10
An Introduction to GNSS and its Applications 10
Principles of Remote Sensing 10
Environmental Issues 20
Introduction to Physical Geography 20
Geographical Skills 20
Quantitative Geographical Analysis 10
Optional Modules Credits
Introduction to Archaeological Science 20
Ecology and Conservation 20
Earth System Science 10
Interconnected World 20
Human Geographies of the UK 20
The Marine Environment 20
Introductory Oceanography 10

You'll study advanced research techniques in physical geography as well as more thematic modules. These will help you to deepen your understanding of key concepts and processes in physical geography research. 

You will also choose your second-year field course. In recent years these have included Ireland, Iceland, Morocco and New Zealand. 

Remaining topics will be optional. This gives you the chance to engage with our cutting-edge research in areas that interest you the most. 


Optional Modules Credits
Animals, Plants and People: an Introduction to Environmental Archaeology 20
Geological Resources 10
Research Methods in Environmental Pollution 20
Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Application 10
Applied Remote Sensing and Image Processing 10
Global Environmental Change 20
Glacial Environments 20
Biogeography 20
River Catchment Dynamics 20
Career Development for second year students 20

You'll have a choice of optional modules and will complete a major piece of independent research in your dissertation, which represents a third of your studies in Stage 3. Specialist optional modules are closely linked to the research interests of staff, providing cutting-edge insights into exciting and developing areas of physical geography.

There is also another opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad, which will be an option if you didn’t take the study abroad option in Stage 2.


Optional Modules Credits
Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Application 10
Applied Remote Sensing and Image Processing 10
Advanced GIS Fieldcourse 20
Geohazards and Deformation of the Earth 10
Geospatial Informatics 10
Tectonic Geomorphology 20
Polar Environments 20
Applied Fluvial Geomorphology 20
Geohazards and Risk 20
Career Development for final year students 20

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods

We deliver a ‘hands-on’ approach to geography. We use practical surveying classes, complemented by laboratory work, computer-based scientific analysis, and development of models and theories.

Our geography courses include a high level of staff and student interaction, including:

  • tutorials
  • lectures
  • laboratory work in new Geoscience laboratories
  • IT lab sessions
  • seminars

Assessment methods

You'll be assessed through a combination of:

  • Coursework

  • Dissertation or research project

  • Essays

  • Examinations – practical or online

  • Group work

  • Portfolio submission

  • Presentations

  • Projects

  • Reports

Skills and experience

Practical skills

Fieldwork and field trips help to bring to life the topics you'll be studying. During your degree you may get opportunities to take part in:

  • UK and international residential trips to put your technical skills into practice
  • day trips to explore our nearby landscapes

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no international trips during the 2020/21 academic year. There may be some local fieldwork if declared safe under University risk assessment.

Research skills

You'll be part of a vibrant research community alongside our highly respected research staff. Fieldwork through your degree will help you grow as a researcher and cultivate your own research techniques.

Your final year dissertation enables you to refine and showcase the research skills you've developed throughout your degree.

What our students think

I decided to study Physical Geography as it allowed me to focus on the areas of geography that interested me the most such as glacial environments and rivers.

Rebecca, Physical Geography student


Work placement

Get career ready with a work placement and leave as a confident professional in your field. You can apply to spend 9 to 12 months working in any organisation in the world, and receive University support from our dedicated team to secure your dream placement. Work placements take place between stages 2 and 3.

You'll gain first-hand experience of working in the sector, putting your learning into practice and developing your professional expertise.

If you choose to take a work placement, it will extend your degree by a year. A work placement is not available if you're spending a year studying abroad. Placements are subject to availability.

Find out more about work placements

Study abroad

Experience life in another country by choosing to study abroad as part of your degree. You’ll be encouraged to embrace fun and challenging experiences, make connections with new communities and graduate as a globally aware professional, ready for your future.

You may choose to spend semester 2 of Stage 2 or semester 1 of Stage 3 on an international exchange at a partner institution.

Find out more about study abroad

Facilities and environment


As a geography student at Newcastle, you'll be based in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology.

You'll have access to modern laboratories and workshops, and a range of facilities and specialist equipment that will be part of the entirely refurbished and newly resourced home of Geography at Newcastle, the Henry Daysh Building and Geoscience Laboratories.

Our geomorphology and sediment, chemistry and biology laboratories are used for a combination of teaching and research. Our research-specific laboratories comprise organic geochemistry and palaeoecology, a spatial analysis lab, and cosmogenic isotope lab.

Field equipment

Field equipment includes a range of technologies for:

  • topographic survey
  • soil and sediment sampling
  • biological and chemical analysis
  • hydrological analysis

Our laboratories

  • biology laboratory
  • chemistry laboratory
  • cosmogenic isotope laboratory
  • geomorphology and sediment laboratories
Students walking through the Newcastle campus


You'll have the support of an academic member of staff as a personal tutor throughout your degree to help with academic and personal issues.

Peer mentors will help you in your first year. They are fellow students who can help you settle in and answer any questions you have, when starting university.

You'll also benefit from our:

  • extended induction programme, to help you quickly settle in to our lively community of staff and students
  • activities and events run by our highly active student-run society, GeogSoc

Your future

Join a network of successful graduates

93% of our Physical Geography BSc Honours graduates were employed or in further study within 6 months of graduating, with an average salary of £24,400*.

Recent graduates have secured roles such as:

  • assistant flood risk consultant
  • data analyst
  • Environment Agency technical assistant
  • graduate surveyor

*Destinations of (undergraduate, UK and EU) Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2016/17

Graduates in demand

Our graduates’ excellent employment record is a sign of the flexibility and professionalism that our geography degrees develop.

You will leave with sought-after skills, including teamwork, project management, research and presentation skills, and therefore will have access to a wide variety of careers.

A Geography degree from Newcastle will ensure you develop the skills that employers look for and can open the doors to a wide range of careers. Our graduates have been recruited by a variety of organisations, including:

  • the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • the Environment Agency
  • independent and major scientific consultancies
  • Raleigh International
  • the Armed Forces
  • the NHS
  • local government
  • financial services firms

Make a difference

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Careers support

We strongly value developing your employability and have our own Geography Employability Co-ordinator. In your final year you can select an optional work experience module.

Our teaching draws upon rich and diverse research networks connected to the world of work. What we teach captures insights from employers ranging from governmental bodies and policy makers, to non-government organisations, the private sector and charities ensuring you are career ready.

Our award-winning Careers Service is one of the largest and best in the country, and we have strong links with employers. We provide an extensive range of opportunities to all students through our ncl+ initiative.

Visit our Careers Service website

Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme

This degree is approved by DTUS, a Ministry of Defence sponsorship programme for students who wish to join the Royal Navy, British Army, RAF, or Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) as technical officers after graduation. 

Find out more about the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2020 entry.

A Level


International Baccalaureate

32 points

Other UK qualifications (and PARTNERS)

Qualifications from outside the UK

English Language requirements


Through our PARTNERS programme, you could receive an offer up to three grades lower than the typical requirements, and get support throughout the application process. To apply through PARTNERS, you must be based in the UK and meet our eligibility criteria. 

Find out more about PARTNERS

Entrance courses (INTO)

International Pathway Courses are specialist programmes designed for international students who want to study in the UK. We provide a range of study options for international students in partnership with INTO. 

Find out more about International Pathway Courses

Admissions policy

This policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate admissions at Newcastle University, including Newcastle University London. It is intended to provide information about our admissions policies and procedures to applicants and potential applicants, to their advisors and family members, and to staff of the University.

Tuition fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for 2020 entry (per year)

Home Fee Students


International Fee Students


The maximum fee that we are permitted to charge for UK students is set by the UK government.

As a general principle, you should expect the tuition fee to increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation.

Read more about fees and funding

You will be charged tuition fees for each year of your degree programme (unless you are on a shorter exchange programme).

The tuition fee amount you will pay may increase slightly year on year as a result of inflation.

Read more about fees and funding

Year abroad and additional costs

For programmes where you can spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad, you will receive a significant fee reduction for that year. 

Some of our degrees involve additional costs which are not covered by your tuition fees.

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How to apply

Apply through UCAS

To apply for undergraduate study at Newcastle University, you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). All UK schools and colleges, and a small number of EU and international establishments, are registered with UCAS. You will need:

  • the UCAS name and institution codes for Newcastle University (NEWC/N21)
  • the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for
  • the UCAS 'buzzword' for your school or college

If you are applying independently, or are applying from a school or college which is not registered to manage applications, you will still use the Apply system. You will not need a buzzword.

Apply through UCAS

Apply through an agent

International students often apply to us through an agent. Have a look at our recommended agents and get in touch with them.

Visit our International pages

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